All posts by Staff Picks

Staff Pick: La Marca Prosecco

Wine: La Marca Prosecco
 4 stars

Review: This Prosecco is an all-around pleasure to drink.  It is one of those slightly sweet-to-dry delights that will please anyone at the dinner table or party.  It’s scarily good, I sipped it a little too fast because I was so taken by the first sip.  How can I explain crisp, yet creamy?  I’m certainly buying this wine again as an every day celebration since it’s so accessible at under $15.  A true value and a-must-have-on-hand-at-all times kinda wine.

Staff Pick: Veramonte “La Gloria” Sauvignon Blanc

Wine: Veramonte “La Gloria” Sauvignon Blanc 2011
4 stars

I wonder if they named this wine “La Gloria” for “glorious?”  I just loved it, especially since it’s so cheap and pure pleasure all around.  The nose is full of lovely perfumed mineral and citrus fruit.  It’s between light and medium bodied to me so it’s not as bright and crisp as a New Zealand Sauv, but there’s massive amounts of stone, minerals, zingy lemon and grapefruit flavors to make up for it.  This is really a great hot weather wine to have on hand to pair with salad and seafood. Did I mention that it’s delicious and fabulously cheap?  Veramonte’s winemakers are rock stars.


Old World vs. New World Gruner Veltliner.

Many people are familiar with Gruner Veltliner from Austria, but did you know that we also have small amounts growing in this country? As far as I can tell there is some being made in Oregon and some in California, as well as Washington and perhaps some others. No matter how you look at it however, there is a very small amount being made here by a very few producers. I love the wines from this grape because it has a peppery note with a good backbone and nice acidity and fruit flavors that run the gamut from stone to apple and pear. The wines seem to pair well with a huge array of foods, perhaps better than almost any other. Because of this, sommeliers around the world are crazy about this wine, as am I.  Stylistically, it can range from light and crisp, easy drinking, to serious full-bodied and well oak aged efforts.

I decided that it might be interesting to try a California example against a fairly serious Austrian one.

Here are the two wines : Zocker Paragon Vineyard Gruner Veltliner and Weingut Knoll Federspiel Gruner Veltliner.

The Zocker is from the Central Coast in the Edna Valley. The Knoll is from The famed Wachau region of Austria.

So  now for the head to head tasting.  First the Knoll: On the nose it displays crisp apple and stone fruit with a bit of lemon curd and a bit of sweet vanilla and there is a white pepper note. When the wine enters the palate, it explodes with spicy ripe apple, guava, lemon and again pepper. The wine’s light color does not prepare you for the intense and density of the mouthfeel, and the mid-palate is especially good with this wine. The finish is very long and there is a bit of light tannin or maybe a tangerine pith quality on the tongue that mixes with the awesome mouth watering acidity.  Truly a classic and elegant, well-balanced, bone-dry wine. This wine will improve for at least 4-5 years and gets 4 stars.

The Zocker I would expect to be riper being from a warmer climate, and on the nose it certainly is.  I get pineapple and more tropical fruit notes, but also a balancing grapefruit aroma…nice. I also get sense of a cooler fermentation with a bit of that characteristic banana aroma that can come with it. In the mouth, right away, there is an almost candy-like golden delicious apple taste, surrounded by that Gruner pepper note, then a blast of nice acidity to round it out. The mouthfeel is rounder than the Knoll, and is more hedonistic, but still retains that true Gruner character, that I was afraid might be lost with the warmer climate. Although the wine is more full-bodied than the Knoll, it actually has a bit less concentration. I am impressed by the winemaking here as it is often tricky for Americans to master new varieties. This is pretty true to itself, whatever that means. This wine gets a 3.5 stars.

All in all, this was an interesting comparison and both wines show very well, with an added edge to the elegance of the Knoll. I, frankly, like both wines a lot, but would drink the Zocker in the next 2 years, and save the Knoll for a few more. I am impressed by the fact that the Zocker really does drink well, and believe that Gruner Veltliner has a good future being grown in this country.

Great tasting, and I see both these wines pairing very very well with many kinds of food.

WineShopper Tasting Notes

A few of the staff got together to taste some of this week’s WineShopper wines. Here’s what they had to say:

Geyser Peak 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon

Kristin: A little restrained at first but opens up nicely with some lush berry flavors, nicely integrated tannins and oak – how can you beat this Cab for the price!? Serve at your next dinner party and watch them ooh and ahh.

Matt: A solid fruity cabernet with plum and cherry flavors that will have your friends guessing the cost of the bottle is double of what you actually paid. I’d recommend having this with pork or a hearty stew.

Kristine: The smokiness and berry flavors definitely stand out. Not overly bold for a Cab, making it easy to pair with a variety of meals and pleasing to a variety of palates. The price makes it taste even better, a great selection to stock up on for a party.

Heggies 2007 Chardonnay

Kristin: Very nice nose with abundant fragrant citrus and some floral, crisp and steely on the palate like a fine Burgundy, just the right amount of fruit to balance some nice acid – I would definitely pick up a bottle of this wine to serve with a French influenced meal.

Matt: A refreshing Chardonnay with lemon and citrus flavors that would be a great addition to a BBQ or a Sunday picnic in the park. My friends and I tried the bottle on the weekend and they all loved it.

Kristine: Mmmmm…what a delightful fruity smell. Crisp and medium bodied with a notable amount of acid.

Bodegas Palacio 2005 Reserva Especial

Kristin: Wow, is this a Rioja? Very appealing peppery, almost jammy nose and ripe fruit flavors, with the classic acidic backbone you expect in a great Rioja – my favorite of the bunch for its great balance of fruit, oak and acid.

Kristine: Beautifully dark, pleasantly peppery, and enjoyably acidic. Loved it. Also my favorite of the three. I would serve this with pork chops during a romantic dinner for two.

One of the other staff snuck off with the bottle before Matt could enjoy it.


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Staff Pick: WineShopper – Schug 2008 Sonoma Chardonnay

Wine: Schug 2008 Sonoma Chardonnay
4 stars

Review: I must confess, I don’t normally drink Chardonnay, mainly because I prefer the lighter-bodied style of a crisp, cool and refreshing Reisling. But ever since I had a lovely glass of a Budini Chardonnay, I now have a varietal with which to expand my white wine palate.

This wine is incredibly easy to drink. I’ve learned my lesson and didn’t overchill the bottle. It was in the fridge for 20 minutes just so it was slightly cooler than room temperature when I first poured it in my glass. The reviewer at Wine Enthusiast wasn’t kidding. The nose literally smelled like aromatic creme brulee. It transported me to those wonderful times when you’re enjoying a great creme brulee or creme caramel with friends after dinner in a nice restaurant.

The wine itself was a pleasure because although it is medium-bodied (not the lighter-bodied style I’m used to), neither was it a heavy wine that I’ve had before and generally do not prefer. It is somewhere in the happy middle and toward the style I enjoy. The first fruit I would think of when describing this is a cool, juicy ripe peach. Truly delicious! I am looking forward to the time when I pop this open to share with friends. Cheers!

Schug 2008 Sonoma Chardonnay

Read more of my reviews on my community page.